The Devil’s Trill Sonata

I am obsessed with this song. I have listened to little since receiving my Garrett vs. Paganini CD a few weeks ago. I could listen to nothing else for the rest of my life and be fulfilled.

The complete story is told, by Tartini himself in Lalande’s Voyage d’un François en Italie (1765 – 66):

“One night, in the year 1713 I dreamed I had made a pact with the devil for my soul. Everything went as I wished: my new servant anticipated my every desire. Among other things, I gave him my violin to see if he could play. How great was my astonishment on hearing a sonata so wonderful and so beautiful, played with such high art and intelligence, as I had never even conceived in my boldest flights of fantasy. I felt enraptured, transported, enchanted: my breath failed me, and – I awoke. I immediately grasped my violin in order to retain, in part at least, the impression of my dream. In vain! The music which I at this time composed is indeed the best that I ever wrote, and I still call it the “Devil’s Trill”, but the difference between it and that which so moved me is so great that I would have destroyed my instrument and have said farewell to music forever if it had been possible for me to live without the enjoyment it affords me.”

He claimed that the sonata was a mere shadow of what the devil played for him that night. Try as he might he was never able to capture the intensity in which the devil played.

I have no doubt that the devil took his soul that night. It attracts and entices me, in the same way. I crave it. Like the devil himself it’s impossible to resist and I can feel him tugging at my soul with every note.

Would you sell your soul to play music as beautifully as this? I certainly would.

[EDIT] :: some reason I am unable to embed the video so here is a link to Itzhak Pearlman performing this piece.

My favorite version is performed by my internet boyfriend, David Garrett.

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